As next-generation smartphones are expected to be equipped with foldable and rollable displays, there will be a fierce competition in foldable smartphones among global smartphone makers including Apple.
According to industry sources on January 11, Samsung Electronics’ foldable smartphone tentatively called “Galaxy X” is highly likely to be released in the first half of next year.
Previously, foreign media, including SamMobile, predicted that Samsung’s foldable smartphone can be launched as early as the third or fourth quarter this year. Considering its product development and mass production plans, however, the official release date will be in the first half of next year.
The market is paying attention to when polyimide film, which is a key component of foldable smartphones, will be produced. A polyimide film has high heat-resistance and remains stable across a wide range of temperatures from minus 269 to plus 400 Celsius and it is considered as a future material in the space aeronautics sector. Due to its thinness, flexibility and foldability, the film is regarded as a core material of foldable devices.
In fact, Kolon Industries, which is preparing for the production of polyimide films in Korea, plans to complete the construction of production facilities and start mass production in the first half of next year. In August last year, the company announced to complete the investment in relevant facilities on January 31 next year, along with its plans to manufacture polyimide films.
Kolon Industries is mentioned as a parts supplier for foldable smartphones of Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics. Given the fact that it generally takes two to three months to supply parts, mass produce products and release, foldable smartphones will most likely to be commercialized at the end of the first quarter or early second quarter.
An industry official said, “The prototype of the Galaxy X can be appeared this year but the device will be commercialized in earnest in the first half of next year in consideration of a relevant components mass production schedule.”
Apple has also filed for patents related to foldable smartphones and is preparing for the product release, along with Samsung Electronics. Accordingly, smartphone manufacturers are expected to compete to mass produce “the first” foldable smartphone.
Meanwhile, rumors suggest that the Galaxy X would be a 5-inch smartphone that could morph into a 7-inch tablet. Apple registered patents for its technologies that can fold smartphone displays along the width and produce cylindrical displays.